Performance art often provides a real opportunity to connect with people and offers them something to be touched by. Sometimes it’s also a vehicle to have fun with the audience. Un-performance was a bit of both.
This work was part of Cementa 15, a festival of contemporary arts staged in Kandos, a town in rural Australia mostly known for the manufacture of cement. I set up an installation in a disused garage, featuring a machine that would periodically blow smoke into the installation.
As audiences arrived I would ask them what they expected to see and whether this was their first performance art experience. Just as they would begin to lose interest I would break out into Dada poetry or improvise verses about concrete. I wore an ancient Greek military gown (chlamys) or an Arabic men’s tunic (thawb) in order to give visibility to ethnicities often missing in rural Australia. I also raised questions about the nature of performance art and its role within contemporary art in an attempt to demystify it, make it more accessible, and easier to understand.